Technical Kickoffs: The Viper Pit

11/10/20171 Min Read — In Project Management, Testing, Development

Let's be real, The Viper Pit just sounds cool. Don't you want to be in the viper pit, on the viper team, doing viper things? Of course, you do. That's the informal name we use for technical kickoffs for the implementation team for our projects. No one wants to call it a hack-a-thon but that's probably a good term to use with the client.

The client-facing project-level kickoffs are all well and good but your team wants to get to work, not watch the same slide deck they've seen before. Except for the slide where their face is there with a job description that makes them wonder if you know what they actually do around here.

Projects live and die by momentum. A train will only bust it's engine if it's trying to burst through a gate from a stand-still, but that same train going 90 miles per hour won't even notice the gate at all. You can start building that momentum from day one using a technical kick off.


  • No Jira, No Trello, No Bugtracker, No Digital Project Tool: whiteboards/sticky notes ONLY
  • No Slack, No Email, No Phones, No Meetings, No Standup: face to face ONLY, the viper team co-locates with a shut door
  • No Interruptions, No Lunch Outings, No Coffee runs: the PM shows up with food, gets the team lunch and snacks and otherwise feeds and hydrates the team
  • The team self-organizes the work, you, the PM or coordinator, are there to assist or remove impediments.
  • At the end of the day, the goal is the team has something demonstrable toward the end vision.

The high-touch, quick onboarding, the camaraderie that happens at these lasts the whole project and beyond. I try to have these for all of my projects, even if all it ends up being is an excuse to not check email and get takeout, it's always worth it. It's up to you to make it valuable.